"Our party is the spice and the catalyst who will provide ideas for the next generation", Liberal Democrat peer Jenny Tonge told Totnes and Brixham party members at their recent Annual Supper Evening.
The Baroness, who was guest speaker for the evening at Totnes Rowing Club, gave an speech filled with honesty on the party's current situation and hope for the future.
She said that while being in Coalition Government with the Conservatives had produced strains within the party and criticism from supporters, it had provided a vital experience which would form an important platform for growth in the future.
The former MP for Richmond Park stated that the party's role in developing forward-thinking policies was vital and that "No-one could dispute that the Liberal Democrats are a party of Government". The Liberal Democrats had been able to drive through tax changes during their time in power, meaning that no-one earning less than £10,000 would be paying income tax by the next election. They had introduced the pupil premium for schools, been instrumental in maintaining the Coalition's green agenda, and Labour had just adopted the Lib Dems' proposals for a Mansion Tax.
Lady Tonge, who came into conflict with her own party's leadership over her support for the Palestinian cause, now sits as an Independent Liberal Democrat in the House of Lords. As a former party spokesperson on International Development and on children she outlined her experience of visiting Gaza, where she had witnessed the humiliation of the Arab population. She warned that Israel's policies towards Gaza, and its new settlements on the West Bank, were in danger of creating new generations of terrorists, and called for her party to press for EU trade sanctions on Israel to bring an end to that country's breach of international law and Human Rights.